Links 8/21/19

Yves here. Apologies for the heavy dose of CalPERS posts, but the bad actors are up to even more chicanery than usual. If you’ve skipped over this topic, I suggest you reconsider, since it’s an in-depth study of institutional rot. Many of our financial services industry readers recognize the behaviors. And there’s plenty of conflict and real stakes!

We did have a partial win yesterday, in that the board code of conduct was deemed to be so deficient that a first reading was postponed and is set for next month with a new draft. Of critical importance is that CalPERS’ fiduciary counsel nixed the idea of having board members sign under penalty of perjury. That requirement was clearly intended not just as a cudgel to further cow the board but to remove board members.

However, as our post on board member Lisa Middleton indicates, the Board Governance Committee did vote through the oversight-gutting reductions to the board’s meeting schedule. We described how Middleton not only failed to decline participating on the subcommittee making the changes and recuse herself on the committee vote as she should have, but she lied by omission by failing to answer a direct question about scheduling conflicts. The schedule changes come up for approval of the full Board of Administration today.

World’s Oldest Webcam’ To Be Switched Off BBC

U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China NPR (David L)

Fossil fuel drilling could be contributing to climate change by heating Earth from within PhysOrg (Robert M)

Melting Glaciers Are Helping Capture Carbon WIRED (Dr. Kevin_

The Amazon is burning and smoke from the fires can be seen from space Vox (Dan K) :-(

A Diet Based on Caloric Restriction Might Make You Live Longer. It’ll Certainly Feel Like Longer. MIT Technology Review. This sounds unduly restrictive. I thought the animal studies were on `~60% of normal intake.


China Confirms U.K. Consulate Staffer in Hong Kong Detained Bloomberg

Solar Power Is Now As Inexpensive As Grid Electricity In China IEEE

What happens next? 4 possible solutions for the Italian crisis Politico


Brexit no-deal funding ‘too little, too late’, says Portsmouth council leader Guardian

A no-deal Brexit could unleash a flood of fake goods in the UK, retail expert says CNBC. As if that’s the biggest worry….


U.S. envoy offers farm visas to boost asylum deal with Guatemala Reuters (resilc)

What ‘Victory’ Looks Like: A Journey Through Shattered Syria New York Times (furzy). Remember the final line of the “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” speech: “Smells like….victory.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Bernie Sanders is now the first 2020 Democratic candidate to call for a ban on facial recognition surveillance Recode

The Cold War spy technology which we all use BBC (David L)

Assange, Attack, Guardian, Journalism Ilargi (Chuck L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Forget ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ and Bring the Troops Home American Conservative

The grim worldview behind Trump’s anti-immigrant push, Hong Kong protests, and the Kashmir crisis. Slate (resilc)

Trump Transition

Trump considers tax cuts to stimulate economy Financial Times

Trump tweets image of enormous Trump Tower on Greenland Guardian

Trump’s Foreign Policy: All Coercion, No Diplomacy American Conservative (resilc)

Trump’s Quiet Attack on Redistricting New Republic (resilc)

DOJ says Christian employers should be allowed to make women wear skirts ShareBlue (Chuck L)

Why the CFO of a Famously Corrupt Company from the 1980s is Working for the Government Worth (resilc)


Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy CounterPunch (resilc)

The 2020 Democratic Field Is More Anti-War Than Obama Was FiveThirtyEight

Why Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to talk about socialism The Week. UserFriendly: “LOL”

Corporate Media Filled With Nameless Voices Attacking Progressive Democrats FAIR (UserFriendly)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Asks Why the Justice Department Went Easy on Big Banks ProPublica

Using—and Regulating—Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process National Conference of State Legislatures (UserFriendly)

Did North Dakota Regulators Hide an Oil and Gas Industry Spill Larger Than Exxon Valdez? DeSmog Blog (Chuck L)

Why New York City Is On the Verge of Disaster Matt Stoller (Chuck L)


Republican senator heckled and booed during raucous town hall for blaming mass shootings on mental illness Raw Story (furzy)

Walmart sues Tesla over solar panels that ‘sparked fires’ Financial Times (David L). Fun!

Boeing will hire hundreds of temporary employees at Moses Lake as it prepares for 737 MAX’s return to service Seattle Times (Chuck L)

NYU professor calls WeWork ‘WeWTF’, says any Wall Street analyst who believes it’s worth over $10 billion is ‘lying, stupid, or both.’ Business Insider (David L)

Recession risks rising. But do central banks have any tools? Christian Science Monitor (resilc)

Slowing Buybacks Remove Pillar of Stock Market Wall Street Journal

COMPLETING THE EURO: THE EURO TREASURY AND THE JOB GUARANTEE revista economica (UserFriendly). Esteban Cruz-Hidalgo + Dirk H. Ehnts + Pavlina R. Tcherneva

The Economist Who Believes the Government Should Print More Money New Yorker (resilc)

Class Warfare

Our Leaders Kill For Their Own Benefit Ian Welsh (UserFriendly)

I Tried to Live Like Joe Rogan Atlantic (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R, from the Pleasant Lake Protective Association newsletter):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. none

    Re the 8/18 Links Class Warfare quote

    “…because, for me, the most likely scenario involves 1% types building impenetrable compounds in the remaining habitable zones patrolled by a ring of drone weapons to vaporize any prols who get too close… Mike Duncan (@mikeduncan)”

    Is that why Trump wants to buy Greenland? Yikes.

    1. JEHR

      Re: “Why can’t Trump just buy England?”

      Our As it Happens radio program has already talked about the US buying Canada but I don’t think they could stand the excellent public broadcasting we have here. Interesting take, however, on the potential change in political balance of power.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There were some comments recently here about Shanghai passing HK, and China couldn’t care less about it nor the protests, or something to that effect.

        If that was so, Trump might want to look into buying Hong Kong as well as buying all the other suggested places.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Melting Glaciers Are Helping Capture Carbon WIRED (Dr. Kevin_

    It should be said unfortunately that other research has found exactly the opposite. From the abstract:

    This study suggests that, despite previous assumptions and estimations, these glacial-fed rivers act as sources of CO2; however, the samples from this study only provide a snapshot into the carbon flux dynamics during the Spring to Summer seasonal transition. In most samples, HCO3 was the dominant species contributing to DIC content within the rivers, suggesting that DIC is being transported to the ocean as HCO3 but sourced to the atmosphere as CO2. By acting as sources of CO2 to the atmosphere, the process of glaciers melting, which drive geochemical processes within the rivers, are contributing to a positive feedback loop with respect to global warming


    1. Olga

      Somewhat related… on criminalising dissent – it’s all about money:
      “In an audio recording obtained by The Intercept, the group concedes that it has been playing a role behind the scenes in crafting laws recently passed in states across the country to criminalize oil and gas pipeline protests, in response to protests over the Dakota Access pipeline. The laws make it a crime to trespass on public land used for “critical infrastructure,” impose a fine or prison time for violators, and hold protesters responsible for damage incurred during the protest. Many of the laws also carry heavy fines to groups and individuals who support such demonstrations.”

    2. Oh

      There’s a lot of BS going around on Climate Change, Diet, exercise, healthy living etc. Take everything with a ton of salt.

      1. Fíréan

        ” a ton of salt “, seems an awful lot .

        Are you confusing “salinated ” and “satiated” , maybe ?


      2. Judith

        Deliberate grasping at straws on the part of journalists and their owners. What stage of denial is that?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “DOJ says Christian employers should be allowed to make women wear skirts”

    So, let’s get this straight. The Department of Justice ‘is arguing that businesses should be allowed to force women to wear skirts at work as long as a Christian business owner demands it.’
    Now we have all seen the pettiness that Trump has demonstrated about wiping out anything that had Obama’s name on it and I mean really petty stuff unbecoming to a President. So I wonder…
    This is about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits, isn’t it?

      1. inode_buddha

        YES I *love* the way you think… same rules for all, or none at all. Partisans consistently fail at this….. consistency. The hobgoblin of tiny minds.

        1. todde

          it’s almost like I was told as a child to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

          I don’t know where i got that crazy idea from…

      2. The Rev Kev

        Sir, you have an evil, bent twist to your mind. Don’t want to go out for a beer sometime, do you?

        1. Still Above Water

          Indeed. For 40 years now, my standard reply to anyone calling for prayer in schools is an enthusiastic “yes – they should all bow to Mecca and pray at the appropriate times each day!” The resulting horror & confusion is always amusing.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        I wonder what religion the CEO of Hooters is, requiring female “staff” to wear push-up bras, tight boob shirts and hot pants.

        Could it be that owners should be allowed, within reason, to require employees to dress according to the image they want the business to project, and employees who don’t like it can work elsewhere?

        Not everything needs to be made a federal case.

        1. todde

          I would tend to agree, as I have to wear a tie to work everyday, and women don’t.

          But if I was to refuse to hire or serve a Christian because of their religious beliefs, I could be sued for discrimination.

          If I can’t discriminate against a Christian because of their religious beliefs, then they should at least reciprocate and not discriminate against others because of their religious beliefs.

          1. todde

            there has to be a mutual respect between people.

            The reason why some people act like animals is because they don’t get respected as human beings.

            If you can’t respect the human being inside of a person, then you will be made to fear the animal inside that person.

            That’s the way it goes.

        2. ewmayer

          The CEO is just following the legal precepts set down in that famous book of the Old Testament which recapitulates the Ten Commandments and much of Mosaic law. I refer of course to Hooteronomy.

      4. Cal2

        “I wonder what will happen when muslim owners start requiring female staff to wear the hijab?”

        Or other religions to force female employees to shave their head and wear wigs?

        Market idea: Could be combined with safety gear and headphones!

      5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I wonder what will happen when the Satanists require their employees to work naked.

      6. Wyoming

        Sweet! After all they are prostitutes if their hair is uncovered.

        I must admit that my first thought was more along the lines of certain owners not letting them wear clothes at all (as long as they met the Hooters criteria). Just as reasonable and one could easily find a suitable religion for cover.

        This is such a bad idea I can’t imagine where it ends up – perfect for the times we live in.

      7. Democrita

        How about if Jewish biz owners required circumcision? Bet we’d see legal interpretations change real fast then!

    1. Carla

      So, if a Muslim business owner required women to wear burkas at work, I guess the DOJ would have to support that, too?

      Yes, of course it’s about Hillary’s pantsuits… and Liz Warren’s slacks and sweaters.

    2. timbers

      What about making men wear gladiator suits? Or at least ties.

      Disclaimer: Personally I think we should all wear Star Trek uniforms at work. So much more comfortable and efficient.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You might get away with that if you tell your bosses that they get to wear Command Gold like in the ST The Original Series. I guess that makes the execs and the supervisors the ones to wear Blue. That would mean though that the workers would become the Red Shirt guys and we all know what happened to them.-

        fajensen below is talking about forcing men to wear skirts but would be no problem in Scotland I reckon.

        1. inode_buddha

          Imagine a Scottish roofing crew. OK, now don’t look up. Well, actually some wouldn’t mind.

      2. richard

        r.e. timbers Star Trek suggestion
        All those polyesters, no way! Plus they’ll send me out to teach a class in a red shirt and you’ll hear a blood curdling scream off camera, and then I never come back. Fat chance ;)

          1. Some guy in Beijing

            I’ve never told this story and I’ll probably never get another chance:

            I once went to a ST convention in the early 90s and met George Takei. During his prepared speech, he said that the uniforms for the first ST feature film had ridiculous zippers that required assistance to open and close due to the shape of the seam that they followed. He said that bathroom breaks required the buddy system. As a kid, I found this hilarious. He said they re-designed the uniforms for the ensuing films largely because of complaints about this issue.

      3. polecat

        OMG! To think of having to wear All that non-breathable Spandex … Uhg ! …. and those dorky high-water pants ….

        “Live Long .. and Perspire !”

    3. fajensen

      That’s cool. I would force the men to wear skirts too. Maybe some high heels and makeup even.

    4. marym

      Saying it’s about Clinton’s pantsuits is comparable to the #resistance saying every Trump scandal du jour is just what Putin wants. The radical right is determined that its social agenda will have the force of law.

      1. Carey

        I’m more concerned about the #mcResistance faux-left (see Antifa™) and their corporate backers, myself.

        A lot more concerned.

    5. RMO

      I was under the impression that an employer in the U.S. can make an employee wear anything the employer wants, restricted only by workplace safety laws and any laws on indecent exposure. Don’t want to wear the chicken suit? You’re fired!

        1. Oregoncharles

          Actual title of the Atlantic article on Rogan:

          “Why Is Joe Rogan So Popular?

          He understands men in America better than most people do. The rest of the country should start paying attention.”

          I’ve only watched him a couple of times, none of the interviewees the article mentions, but my answer to the question is simpler: he’s an excellent interviewer, respectful and draws out his subject. (Charlie Rose, in contrast, was atrocious.) And he regularly gets very interesting people – recently, Bernie Sanders and, IIRC, Tulsi Gabbard. One I saw was an ex-cop (Philadelphia, I think) who provided a lot of insight at the height of Black Lives Matter. Very enlightening, and very critical of police SOP.

          Going back to the subtitle: interviewers that appeal primarily to women do well, too. In Rogan’s case, it’s something of a neglected demographic. Might explain Jordan Peterson’s popularity, too. Rogan is considerably more constructive, without the right wing baloney that Peterson repeats. I do see the author’s point: the setting is pretty testosterone-soaked, and he’s pretty explicit about his point of view – which is at least honest.

          Interesting that Gabbard did well in the interview – apparently she’s good at that. Might be worth seeing.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Don’t know why that wound up where it did, whether I pushed the wrong button or there was a random glitch.

          2. davidgmillsatty

            What right wing baloney of Peterson? That IQ matters? Seems like that is what most on the left don’t like him for. I don’t think he would be even known, if it weren’t for his positions on IQ.

      1. polecat

        Bu bu but what if I’m forced to wear whole sides of BACON* .. ??

        *can I then eat my way up the corporate ladder ?

    6. WheresOurTeddy

      it’s about setting the culture. If you are the kind of person who would push back about a gendered dress code, a Christian cultural imperialist doesn’t want you in his office anyway.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    A Diet Based on Caloric Restriction Might Make You Live Longer. It’ll Certainly Feel Like Longer. MIT Technology Review. This sounds unduly restrictive. I thought the animal studies were on `~60% of normal intake.

    Disclaimer: I’ve tried the Prolon diet too. And I find it harder than a water only fast. I found myself obsessing about the next meal, while when I’ve fasted I usually just get an occasional craving, but otherwise its fine. But thats maybe because the individual foods in it are actually delicious. When you read Dr. Longo on the topic, its clear he only developed Prolon because of an institutional and individual resistance to the idea of fasting only (it doesn’t have to be water only, black coffee, green teas, etc., are fine, they may even improve it). Its also of course much cheaper.

    There is a weight of evidence that occasional fasting has very powerful health benefits – its worked wonders for me. And its far easier than conventional ‘diets’ or certainly calorie restriction. Quite a few of my elderly relatives would regularly do religious fasting on black tea only – many lived very long and healthy lives despite having other quite unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, lots of bacon and butter and cheap bread). Fasting was always a common treatment for many conditions from the ancient Greeks onward.

    1. Lee

      The headline reminds me of William F. Buckley’s attitude toward exercise. He would only engage in regular exercise if he could be guaranteed that his life would be extended by an amount of time greater than the time he spent exercising. As for fasting, I get so cranky when I’m hungry that those around me would tie me up and force feed me if I went too long without eating.

      1. inode_buddha

        Most likely you blood sugar is dipping too low — mine affects my moods in the same way. Secret to a good long fast is to have a piece of hard candy about every 3 hrs — lifesavers are good. Make sure to stay properly hydrated, and minimise physical activity.

      2. Robert McGregor

        “William F. Buckley’s attitude toward exercise. He would only engage in regular exercise if he could be guaranteed that his life would be extended by an amount of time greater than the time he spent exercising”

        Who does that remind you of? Trump thinks exercise uses up your fixed amount of physical energy over a lifetime. And while we’re talking about famous Republicans and their views on exercise and health: Though quite rich, and able to afford whatever medical care available, Buckley died at the relatively early age of 82. At the time of his death, he had been suffering from emphysema and diabetes, and had a lifetime of smoking {per Wikipedia}

        1. pretzelattack

          ah apparently he didn’t have the same attitude toward cigarettes, if he only spent a tenth of the time exercising that he did smoking he could have lived longer.

          1. Wukchumni

            2 of my oldest backpacking friends i’ve been on say 100 backpack trips with, are half a pack a day smokers, one for 35 & the other for 45 years, and i’m used to it, and they’re discreet, but there’s still smoke in the air.

            This last trip, took a friend along and he was amazed they could pull it off, and that they were so much quicker walkers, than him.

            1. Susan the other`

              Smoking was always my favorite vice. Hard on the lungs tho. I’m convinced nicotine is/can be beneficial sometimes.

          2. foghorn longhorn

            …lived longer…
            As a soon to be 61 yo, not sure of the lived longer trope.
            82 is plenty effin old, not here to just mark time, give me 70 good healthy years.
            Once your pecker breaks, it’s time to bow out.

            1. pretzelattack

              when you get to 70 with no major health issues, you will want more. the age at which one is content to die recedes into the future.

    2. David

      It’s a shame that fasting has started to be fashionable with books written about it, because it is actually one of the oldest and best-established ways of promoting health. It’s likely, in fact, that calorie restriction is only effective because it reproduces some of the positive features of fasting, notably providing time for the body to clean itself up between digesting meals. But if you are going to do that you might as well do it properly and fast. In addition, once you get over the novelty you won’t feel hungry all the time as you do with calorie restriction.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, exactly. So much ‘hunger’ is really just cravings driven by blood sugar spikes, which in turn is caused by too much sugar/refined foods. When you point out to people that it takes many hours for even a small meal to clear your digestive system, it makes absolutely no sense that you should feel ‘hunger’ just a few hours after a meal (e.g. the ’11’oclock slump’ that advertisers love).

        1. Off The Street

          I always thought that there was some folk wisdom in evidence for elevensies and tiffin. People took breaks to replenish their blood sugar and souls.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            except when i forget to eat(unconscious fasting?…another benefit of my weed regimen?)…I’m a hobbit.
            Second Breakfast is now a Thing around here.
            4-6 smallish “meals” during my rather long days(4am-11pm, with a nap when it gets hot, after what i think of as a traditional European lunch(not the 30 minutes everybody i know gets)
            all this became a problem during the 6.5 years waiting for the hip…suddenly sedentary, and i gained a bunch of weight.
            building the house(physical therapy/art project) took care of that, mostly….but I’m still necessarily more sedentary than i would like(pain gets me mid day)
            (and Pain Days are boring…so “bored eating”)
            the trick, i reckon, is the definition of “meal”.
            Basura don’t count as “food”,imo, but that seems to be the norm with just about everyone else i know.
            This fall, ideally i could finally lobby mom(she of the discretionary income) to obtain the necessary equipment for charcuterie….especially deer jerky.
            that’s non-basura even the boys can get behind.

        2. Procopius

          The “three meals a day” and “never skip a meal” dogmas are without basis. Buddhist monks eat once a day, before noon. One, when asked if it wasn’t hard, replied, “You get used to it.” Often “feelings of hunger” are just habit, and after a few minutes they subside.

      2. Don Pelton

        Fasting works best if you are on a low carb diet when not fasting, so that your body adapts to metabolizing fat preferentially over metabolizing glucose. We fast daily (between dinner and lunch the next day) for an average of 15 to 17 hours a day, and rarely feel hungry.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          We do similarly, except we just have one daily meal in the evening.
          We do the low carb, keto-ish diet, have been doing this for several years now with no apparent ill effects.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            This is our daily routine, not a planned deal, but just how it worked out.
            Luscious Louella doesn’t care for breakfast and it’s too dang hot for lunch.
            So we just eat once a day at around 6ish, a protein, some veggies maybe, mix in a salad at times. Our main keto weakness is potatoes, we like them.

        2. eg

          You can also do a “fat fast” — consuming nothing but fat during an extended period like that. You won’t find that you want to eat very much of it, though …

      3. neo-realist

        Ignorant question re fasting, would coffee w/ milk or black coffee suffice in a fast or is it cheating?

        I don’t think I could do it w/o a caffeine fix.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, black coffee and tea (any kind) are considered ok, as with light drinks made with cider vinegar and flavourings, maybe a touch of lemon juice. Anything with even a trace of sugar (including things like malodextrin flavouring) or protein or carbs are not. If taking black coffee you need to take electrolytes to avoid dehydration.

          Having said that, there are lots of people on the interwebby thing selling their versions of healthy fast diets, its best to look at the best medical advice.

          *disclaimer: I’m not a doctor*

          1. Oregoncharles

            Tea on an empty stomach makes me throw up – tannins. And I’m deeply habituated. So that’s something to watch out for.

    3. Krystyn Walentka

      First, i want to thank everyone for the well wishes the otherday on my van life adventure. I have found a good area to roam around in Missoula, MT. Weather is great, lots of rivers to bathe in, etc.

      I practice caloric restriction, but with a twist. I eat mostly fish, but small amount of high Omega 3 fish and mostly carbs like potatoes and rice. I maybe eat 1000 calories a day depended on my activity. It fixed so many of my metabolic numbers and reduced the swings of my Bipolar Disorder, so much so I do not feel like I have it anymore. I call it a Pomeranian Diet (like the are in Poland on the Baltic Sea, not the dog) and I do so because it looks like it was a best fit for my genetics. My doctor is always concerned about my weigh but then the labs come back and she tells me to keep on keepin on.

      I would probably not feel as well on Prolon.

      1. pretzelattack

        I’ve heard that is a nice area, but the winters might be tough. I’ve been losing weight pretty steadily on something like 1100 to 1500 calories a day, so I look for ways to increase my intake–bananas work well for me.

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          I got a 2005 Town and Country with only 125k for $1500. Connected by a friend. Everything has been replaced but routes might need work. Very happy with it and I could not be luckier.

      2. Susan the other`

        I kept a list of places where I wanted to move for years. Escape to really. Missoula Montana was always first on that list. I updated it occasionally and Missoula always came in first. I’m jealous. But I’m now too old for those dreams. Enjoy it for me too please.

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          I lived in Missoula last year for 9 months. I would not recommend it. While there are good periods, like now, air quality is horrible and the winter is brutal. Plus it’s a college town.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Walmart sues Tesla over solar panels that ‘sparked fires’ ”

    When you get down to it, ‘sparked fires’ seems like a little thing, doesn’t it? Well here is an article showing the actual damage. Some of the details included in that article are freaky-

    And this is from the same company that manufactures cars that people drive around in. Those Tesla car fires are part of a general pattern then, aren’t they?

    1. russell1200

      I’ve worked in the Solar PV O&M area. You can’t tell from the article, or your links, what exactly is going on. Primarily because you don’t know what sort of maintenance operation Walmart has payed for. So while you have what are indicated to be installation (adequate equipment improperly installed), or just as possible faulty equipment (inadequate equipment installed correctly), you don’t know what sort of maintenance Walmart has payed for.

      You cannot de-enegize a solar module except by taking it out of the light. The modules themselves are always potentially on.

      Taping the hot spots should not matter. The modules have bypass diodes that should already be bypassing those hot spots in any case.

      All that being said, I have seen some systems that were essentially built and then left to sit. It is fairly normal for large parts of the system to no longer be functional. If the owner is paying no attention at all, it is not unusual for the inverter to have shut itself down through the ground fault system: lightning can do this even without human error. But you wouldn’t expect to be seeing fires at multiple locations occurring if the systems were adequate at the time of installation: even if they were just left to sit there with no maintenance.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that key here is what is written lower down that Business Insider page where it accuses Tesla of “a troubling pattern of deficiencies, negligence, and failure to satisfy Prudent Industry Practices”. Also-

        “Equally troubling, after Tesla technicians visited the rooftop, one of the technicians failed to close the cover to a combiner box, exposing this important piece of equipment to the elements and thereby creating a firehazard. Still more troubling, Walmart subsequently learned (independent of Tesla) that a potentially dangerous ground fault alert had occurred at the Yuba City site during the summer of 2018. Tesla either ignored the alert or deliberately failed to disclose it to Walmart,” the complaint states.

        You have to be honest here. If you worked at a Walmart with these panels installed and you heard about these fires, would you not be sizing up the emergency exits and casting glances at the roof when outside?

    2. bob

      As in all things elon-

      How many other times has this happened and he solved the “PR problem” by buying off the victims?

      I got decapitated by elon and all i got was an NDA and a check!

      1. Synoia

        Really, truly decapitated ? It’s miraculous that you can post here.

        Or is there another meaning to “decapitated”?

  6. Drake

    “Smells like…victory”

    Actually the last line was “You know someday this war’s gonna end…”, followed by a sad, wistful silence. If only Kilgore had lived in our time, when wars never end.

    Recently posting as DK but changing the name after seeing another DK in the article bylines.

    1. vidimi

      i disagree. while the guardian is a deserving target, owen jones is not the enemy. a cursory google search will reveal that he has defended julian assange. likewise for jeremy corbyn.

      1. Olga

        I am pretty sure OJ was not the target – the point of the article was that it is super hypocritical to worry about OJ, while at the same time keep total silence on the horrible plight of JA. Illargi and WSWS made that point abundantly clear.

      2. WJ

        The author’s point is that to the extent that either Jones or Corbyn calls attention to any such fascist “threats to journalism” in the UK WITHOUT underscoring and repeating as often as possible the prime example of Julian Assange–whom Jones’s UK employer and Corbyn’s UK party have helped throw to the US wolves–they are engaging in doublethink.

        It is hard to argue that the author is wrong, nor is doing so incompatible with recognizing other merits of either Jones or Corbyn. Not even critics of doublethink are able to avoid doublethink altogether.

  7. Lee

    The grim worldview behind Trump’s anti-immigrant push, Hong Kong protests, and the Kashmir crisis. Slate (resilc)

    The grim world view as posited by the author is manifested by the growing tendency of some nation states to more rigorously enforce their borders and in some instances to disown, deport, discriminate against, or sanction violence against minorities within their borders. What the author does not mention is the material basis for such policies, to wit, the grim reality of material scarcity or the prospect thereof should current trends be allowed to continue.

    1. The Rev Kev

      “Kann trump nicht einfach England kaufen”. I like it. The Germans have a wicked sense of humour sometimes. Back during the Falklands War I was staying in Germany. Just after the first British aerial attacks on Argentinian positions I was with some friends and picked up a newspaper to flick through and saw the headline. After breaking out in laughter with tears in my eyes, I had to explain to them after recovering the cause of it. What was the headline? It was “Das Imperium schlägt zurück” which translates to “The Empire Strikes Back!”

      1. Drake

        Just like ‘simple’ in English, ‘einfach’ in German has other interesting meanings. “Can Trump simply buy England?”. “Can Trump rudely buy England?”. “Can Trump simple-mindedly buy England?”. Yes, yes, and yes!

        And throw in Scotland so he can do what he wants with that golf course, too.

        1. Susan the other`

          And Greenland. What’s an extra few trillion anyway. It will only take 4 or 5 centuries to recoup that initial investment. Hey, it’s market politics at the end of the world. It’s beside the point because the only thing now of any value is a viable vision for humanity. Got vision?

      2. Off The Street

        Just a step or two away from another German (technically from an Austrian) question: Brennt es Paris? Is Paris burning?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The whole Greenland thing was probably cooked up by some doofus tech billionaire to serve as a replacement for Epstein’s island but with more Bitcoin.

        1. wilroncanada

          The Trump hotel image he apparently tweeted is the more obvious tell of what he really thought.

          I was told by a reliable source (somewhere in the reaches of my mind) thatDenmark responded by instead offering to buy Alaska, in trade for a disabled tanker in the Mediterranean full of bullshit. The response from the US trade representative was “no thanks. We’re already full of it.”

        2. Procopius

          They don’t need to buy Greenland. We already have a huge Strategic Air Force Base there. Thule (trans.=”The End of the Earth”). It’s not a good place to be stationed. A friend of mine was stationed at Pease AFB, New Hampshire, and they sent him to unload ships during the (brief) summer. They can’t bring enough supplies in except by ship. I guess they have a longer ice free season, now.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Why New York City Is On the Verge of Disaster Matt Stoller

    A must read I would say, especially on the crucial issue of crumbling infrastructure. This is the biggest scandal of privatisation, but its one that will only creep up on people over years and decades.

    Also, the stupidity of so much sub-contracting:

    To put it into words, the problem we have is corruption in the government contracting world, aided by immense amounts of useless overpaid make work. In 2011, an antitrust attorney did a report on how we overpay for government contracting. In service of ‘shrinking government,’ policymakers chose to set up a system where instead of hiring an engineer as a government employee for, say, $120,000 a year, they paid a consulting firm like Booz Allen $500,000 a year for a similar engineer. The resulting system is both more expensive and more bureaucratic.

    This is a key reason why so much infrastructure is so much more expensive in the English-speaking world than in Europe or Asia. Quite simply, you need to employ people directly and keep them in jobs until they retire, even if it means they don’t do much during quiet periods. Consultants should only be used for highly specialised work of for times when the work pressure is simply too much for in-house staff.

    Ironically, technology might be helping reverse the process. I was talking to someone who works for a regulatory body recently and asked him if they were hiring many consultants to deal with the current economic boom. He said that they can’t, because management had imposed implemented a monstrously overcomplicated data base system, which has proven too difficult for non-core staff to use. And when outside consultants were trained in, they found that the system allowed too much access to confidential information and it was proving too difficult to block this. Therefore, management was horrified to learn that they had no choice but to hire more internal staff rather than rely on external consultants to deal with work load issues.

    1. anon in so cal

      Infrastructure in the greater Los Angeles area is also crumbling. Surface streets have numerous potholes that destroy tires, and freeway pavement is uneven.

      Power outages affecting many thousands of residents are commonplace as are massive water main breaks that disrupt traffic for days at a time.

      There are many reasons for the power outages and inattention to crumbling infrastructure, including corruption, mismanagement, and corrupt collusion between the Los Angeles Building and Safety Dept, City Council, Planning Dept, and developers:

      “at least 200 older Beverly Grove houses to make way for McMansions, with the tacit support of elected officials and the City’s Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). The new ordinances to contain mansionization have either been toothless or haphazardly enforced. For example, Council District 5 has tallied over 50 code violation complaints from Beverly Grove residents that new McMansions exceed the height and square footage limits of the zoning code. In every case, Council District 5 supports Building and Safety’s standard reply: the challenged McMansions comply with recent anti-Mansionization ordinances. LADBS then refuses to release their in-house calculations on the same buildings’ heights and square footage. When confronted with contradictory evidence from their own online building permits, Building and Safety’s comeback is unbelievable. Their publicly inaccessible and un-posted in-house calculations supersede their online building permit technical descriptions. ”

      The FBI is currently investigating the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), a notoriously corrupt and incompetent city agency, for problems associated with its decision to outsource its billing to an outside corporation.

      “There was a flurry of FBI activity in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, as agents served search warrants at both the downtown headquarters of the Department of Water and Power and City Hall East. While officials were initially tight-lipped about the purpose of the searches, reporting in the days since has linked the investigation to a long-standing scandal that’s been unfolding at the DWP since 2013. Considering the fact that the city is undergoing a completely separate FBI corruption investigation involving foreign development money, you might be having trouble keeping up with all the details….

      Following the launch of a new billing system overseen by the global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos received water bills that were wildly inflated, while others received delayed bills, inaccurate late notices, or no bills at all. This resulted in mass frustration, long wait times for service, and eventually a class-action lawsuit against the city.

      The city settled the ratepayer lawsuit in 2017.

      In the settlement, city promised resolved to fix the billing issues. It also agreed to pay about $67 million in refunds to DWP customers, and to cover damages (such as plumbers’ bills) that ratepayers might have accrued.

      ….Last month, Garcetti announced that DWP General Manager David Wright would step down on October 1, 2019. On Tuesday, he announced that he had decided to dismiss Wright immediately, and to replace him with Chief Operating Officer Marty Adams, a 35-year veteran of the department. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, who has long been critical of the utility, told the Times this was essentially “like promoting the Titanic’s engineer.”

      Feuer may be in trouble, too.

      City Attorney Mike Feuer has denied all involvement in the scheme, placing the blame solely on Paradis and Kiesel. However, Kiesel told the Times that his work was done at the “express direction” of Feuer’s office. If Feuer is found to be involved, it may pose challenges for his expected run for mayor in 2022…..

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Infrastructure is not doing so well in NE Tejas either. Suffered first ever brownout Sunday evening, no storm involved, just overloaded system.
        Roads not upgraded and at least 10x the traffic from 20 years ago.
        Our sleepy, little town is neither anymore.

    2. flora

      And this quote from Stoller’s article resonates:

      “This corruption wasn’t that bad until the 1990s, when Bill Clinton and Al Gore introduced their ‘reinventing government initiative,’ which transferred large amounts of government work to overpaid private contractors. They bragged the size of government didn’t grow, even as they were building a slothful, incompetent, and highly corrupt shadow government in place of the relatively functional public system they took over. This trend of offshoring wasn’t just Federal, but state-level as well. Twenty five years later we’re dealing with a government that can’t govern.”

      That, in a nutshell, is the political philosophy of the current Dem estab.

      1. flora

        adding: I think PCR is right in his assessment; he’s looking at the same thing Stoller is looking at from a different angle, and picture matches in broad outline if not detail.

        “I have reported for years that US jobs are no longer middle class jobs. The jobs have been declining for years in terms of value-added and pay. With this decline, aggregate demand declines. We have proof of this in the fact that for years US corporations have been using their profits not for investment in new plant and equipment, but to buy back their own shares. Any economist worthy of the name should instantly recognize that when corporations repurchase their shares rather than invest, they see no demand for increased output. Therefore, they loot their corporations for bonuses, decapitalizing the companies in the process. There is perfect knowledge that this is what is going on, and it is totally inconsistent with a growing economy.”

      2. foghorn longhorn

        We can’t just let clinton and gore have all the credit here, nixon, ford, carter, reagan, and the bushtards deserve their fair share of the credit for the morass we currently find ourselves in.
        They definitely reached across the aisle, and went all bipartisan on our *ss.

        Then Mr. Hope and Change rolled in and, and, and paved the way for the orange orangutan.

        But never fear, holy joe and jill!, just swallow hard, are here to save the day.

    3. rd

      This story on NYC subway tunnels from two years ago is a must read:

      The author looks at NYC infrastructure and California high-speed rail and asks “why can’t America have cheaper construction”.

      In general most of the US does have much cheaper construction. However, there has been little will to spend any money on it, so the problem is a lack of funding, not cost of construction.

      The high construction costs are generally limited to a few specific areas, such as NYC and urban areas of California. However, journalists living in those locations generally don’t get out into fly-over country and so those locations get extrapolated to everywhere else.

      I support replacing the railroad tunnel under the Hudson, but as a Federal taxpayer, NYC is going to have to get their costs under control before the federal government picks up much of the tab. We should not be funding featherbedding and gross bureaucratic inefficiency.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Your comment does not make it clear what state you hail from, but I guarantee it probably has as much boondoggling corruption and graft on a per capita basis as NYC does. Construction is a rather notorious business no matter the jurisdiction, and certainly other states have sources of graft that are unknown even in New York.

        More to the point, in a federal system we all agree to share the costs of a national infrastructure, understanding that we all benefit. We also share in the danger of just letting the infrastructure rot. The cost of *not* funding a new trans-Hudson tunnel will be directly felt by anyone who travels by any mode along the Eastern seaboard, and indirectly by all Americans as the costs ripple through the economy.

    4. Procopius

      The Pentagon also has a problem with too much vital equipment being sourced from China. I think that goes back to the Clinton admin, too.

    1. Oregoncharles

      When was that election? Wikipedia indicated it was yet to come. NC used to have a regular Argentine commenter, Rabid Gandhi. This would be a good time for them to reappear.

      Interesting Welsh article; he usually is.

  9. zagonostra

    >Atlantic -Joe Rogan: “His invitation to Jones was indefensible, and his defense was even worse.”

    My Joe Rogan experience ended because he wore me out. He never shuts up. He talks and talks and talks. He doesn’t seem to grasp that not every thought inside his brain needs to be said out loud. It doesn’t occur to him to consider whether his contributions have value. He just speaks his mind. He just whips it out and drops it on the table.

    I disagree, let the listener decide. In view of Epstein “suicide” , Alex Jones for all his Reptilian, Sandy Hook excesses, on some issues is less of a “conspiracy theorist” then corporate media.

    And as for finding him somewhat tedious, I agree. However, if you compare his interview of Sanders/Tulsi with CNN and MSNBC I’ll take the former over the latter.

    1. bob

      The author whipped out his upper-class contempt and dropped it on the table in the first few paragraphs. As much as someone who writes for the atlantic and “both-sides” everything can. That sly contempt while feigning reasonable is why the make the big bucks.

      I’m not a fan of Rogan.

      1. JohnnyGL

        The article made some good observations, but made too much of the guy as if he’s a kind of cult leader with the lifestyle stuff and hobbies. He’s not.

        He just makes a podcast with conversations that people like to hear. He does long form interviews with interesting guests and asks different questions than you often hear from very dull, beltway-brained reporters. Not a lot of other people out there are doing it, or at least not well enough to get such a following.

        Also, he’s very youtube friendly as he feeds the algorithm with a lot of content, including lots of short, teaser clips to attract interest.

        1. bob

          That’s exactly the formula! Start with a back handed compliment and then spend the rest of your words walking it back.

          The Atlantic still won’t hire you, blog dweller

        2. Dan

          “He is driven, inexhaustible, and an honest-to-goodness autodidact.”
          “And don’t we want men thirsting for knowledge? Don’t we want them striving, setting goals, learning, learning, learning? Don’t we want more Joes?”…

          God no! Men, especially white men, are supposed to expend their intellectual energy on pro-sports fandom and memorizing sports statistics, or worshiping high performance cars or motorcycles, ideally on a payment plan, or, pumping up or tattooing their body. Ideally, the thoroughly trained males will be out demonstrating against white privilege and actively listening to women, ideally, women of color, maybe even thinking about changing their gender, which per the media, is about every male in five. /Sarc.

          The last thing the media masters and money mensches of our society want is men, or women, independently learning new things, analyzing their financial, social and work situations and discussing with others of their class what they can do about it.

          Rogan”s interview with Tulsi Gabbard is the kind of thing that makes him worthy of a take-down in the eyes of our masters.

  10. Ignim Brites

    “The 2020 Democratic Field Is More Anti-War Than Obama Was”. No reporting on Tulsi Gabbards’ position? Safe to say that on foreign policy, 538/ABC is worthless.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    What ‘Victory’ Looks Like: A Journey Through Shattered Syria New York Times

    Amazing article – NYT journalist allowed access to Syria and spend the entire article whinging about having minders (and casually lets slip in the final anecdote that actually the minders let them talk to who they wanted in the evening without any interference).

    And to compound it, the writer complains about people complaining about the damage caused by US sanctions without acknowledging that yes, the US has sanctioned Syria, severely hampering reconstruction.

    1. Cal2

      More propagandistic bullshit from the Toilet Paper of Record.

      When one can’t even trust the picture captions,how can one trust the text?
      Picture of ruins, “The citadel, a medieval fortress…”
      Didn’t know they had reinforced concrete in the Middle Ages.

      “Building shelled by Assad’s forces”…
      Who knows whose shells destroyed those buildings?

      What country benefits from a shattered and broken Syria?

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    wandering around the periphery of the neera/nina tweetfight:
    couple of things:
    this made my day

    and a flashback linked by many of the antineera bernie bulldogs:

    and roaming through neeraville on twit, she sounds identical to so very many pre-trump republican partisans…a snappy little rat-dog. petty.
    her and her village are still in Russia!/Berniebro mode.
    only good thing is i haven’t noticed much pro-biden craziness…likely because they’re still sore about the shameful loss, and firmly in the Denial Stage.
    the gist of it all makes me think…if the Demparty is having the same kind of conniption/fit as the gop did in 2015-16(remember, most people i pay attention to thought the gop was toast, including me)…and Bernie somehow makes it to the WH….what does that bode for politics going forward?
    a Trumpgop vs a BernieDemparty(with the Centrists exiled from both still trying to hook up the electrodes properly on their Big Centrist Party) would be a major shift from the Sixth Party System, economically, domestically, and ideologically. The last, ideology, might be particularly interesting: neoFDR vs the apparent ad hoc non-ideology of trump.
    makes me think of the Reformation, or the Constantinian Shift…a fundamental upending of the bulk of the assumptions that have become conventional wisdom.
    it’s sad that the Humanities are in such a sad state, because i figger we’re gonna need them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m starting to like this Nina Turner, especially when she came out and said on her Twitter account-

      “You don’t tell me what to do, think or say. Just in case you were not aware, I am a free Black woman”.

      Damn! That is how you defeat a Trump – by taking the fight right back to your attackers.

    2. DJG

      Amfortas: Thanks for this observation, “her and her village are still in Russia!/Berniebro mode.”

      And Tanden’s promoting the idea that Susan Sarandon is ruining the nation?

      One piece of conventional wisdom that seems to be having some trouble being perceived: The point of Hillary Clinton’s un-election is that she is incompetent. She is a woman and incompetent. Time to get over the idea that she is chromosomally more competent that other people. This seems to be why Tanden and other people on the thread are apoplectic: They are not wrong because of their various background data, which absolve them of their actions.

      1. a different chris

        You are so right. *I* know women are as capable as men. And that includes the capability of just sucking at life. Hillary would be a good example of the Peter Principle (call it the Polly Principle if you still need to separate the sexes) — except she didn’t just rise to her base level of incompetence but still continued upwards based on no clear reasons at all.

        1. John k

          IMO there was a reason, the foundation. This richly rewarded loyalists.
          Money talks. Fading now with contributors looking for other access.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is also an excuse to throw to the donors. After all, why give money to Neera and CAP if they can’t drag the most qualified candidate ever! over the finish line?

        The Clintonistas have a choice: acknowledge the flaws of the HRC candidacy and the Third Way in general, acknowledge their own flaws (not necessarily separate from the first option), or blame a random entity. Nader, the GOP outspending us, minorities not voting (despite the high rates; but the low turnout among minority voters for years with Clintons headlining the ticket compared to other years is problematic; there was a good deal of this after 2000), OMG Russia, Karl Rove’s trickery, etc

        When you get right down to it, the immense amount of money spent by David Brock types has produced the same results as if the DNC had simply closed up shop (besides stopping progressive candidates). Lets consider, Buttigieg and Harris are folding. Biden is a clod and one candidate that can’t be promised as obviously smarter than Trump. I saw Castro briefly this morning on CNN. He looked tired.

    3. Ember Brody

      “it’s sad that the Humanities are in such a sad state”

      That is by design. Our overlord’s do not want us to be able to think critically (they want us “thinking” like a computer). They do not want us to be historically, sociologically or politically aware. The want us to be extensions of machines, Taylorist slot-in components, efficient, mechanical, productive, life-hacking, self-actualizing, self-supporting market entities responding to price signals, market demand, disruptions.

      They do not want us enjoying sunsets, painting, reading the wrong books, having slow meals, telling jokes, laughing and crying and getting high, getting low, going with the flow. No, No, No. TINA.

      1. a different chris

        Won’t work. The Humanities weren’t handed down from above, they came out of studying, well humans. So not teaching it won’t make it go away. In fact when people don’t have the tools to express themselves, the result is rage and breaking things.

        As our overlords should know, but they skipped, well, Humanities.

      2. Christopher Fay

        This reads like Dr. Seuss’ work of dystopia. “They do not want us here, they do not want us there. They want TINA TINA TINA for us.”

        1. epynonymous

          One of the students held up his hand; and though he could see quite well why you couldn’t have lower-cast people wasting the Community’s time over books, and that there was always the risk of their reading something which might undesirably decondition one of their reflexes, yet … well, he couldn’t understand about the flowers. Why go to the trouble of making it psychologically impossible for Deltas to like flowers?

          Patiently the D.H.C. explained. If the children were made to scream at the sight of a rose, that was on grounds of high economic policy. Not so very long ago (a century or thereabouts), Gammas, Deltas, even Epsilons, had been conditioned to like flowers–flowers in particular and wild nature in general. The idea was to make them want to be going out into the country at every available opportunity, and so compel them to consume transport.

          “And didn’t they consume transport?” asked the student.
          “Quite a lot,” the D.H.C. replied. “But nothing else.”
          Primroses and landscapes, he pointed out, have one grave defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes; to abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport. For of course it was essential that they should keep on going to the country, even though they hated it. The problem was to find an economically sounder reason for consuming transport than a mere affection for primroses and landscapes. It was duly found.

          “We condition the masses to hate the country,” concluded the Director. “But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail the use of elaborate apparatus. So that they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks.”

          – A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

    4. bob

      The white women lecturing her after that are the real highlight. They’re all one Mercedes and a vacation home away from voting for Ivanka, Khaleesi of Feminism, in 2020.

      “I don’t like her father, but her style is wonderful!”

      Nina Turner is great.

    5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      This Classics Major is ready and willing to build societies.

      Im doing my part!
      -Starship Troopers

    6. ewmayer

      “it’s sad that the Humanities are in such a sad state” — That’s not just externally imposed (e.g. by starving them of funding) but self-inflicted due to the coddling and nurturing of militant IdPol on campus. That leads to batshit-crazy stuff like this:

      White professor investigated for quoting James Baldwin’s use of N-word | Books | The Guardian

      Oh, great, this sort of PC in(s)anity – and I love that the complaining student in this case was white – is gonna have a further chilling effect on the most profound mission of the so-called liberal arts, the exploration of discomfiting ideas.

      Guess I’m gonna have to get the magic marker out and blot out the occurrence of said offensive term in my copy of the Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen’s poem “Incident”, lest one of my young nephews happen to pull his Collected Poems off my bookshelf and have his innocent young eyes light on that infamous word.

  13. PlutoniumKun


    This is great – I’ve been hoping for some time to find a detailed MMT proposal for the Eurozone. I hope its widely circulated, its a discussion that’s essential.

    1. Susan the other`

      I was hoping someone would comment. I thought it was a masterpiece of economic clarity. An innovation in clarity. Pavlina is fast becoming one of my faves – she’s right up there with Stephanie. And her co-authors, clearly they all know what they are talking about. It’s old-fashioned socialist in its premise that labor is the foundation of the economy and thus is the best price anchor. Not sure Marx saw the price anchor connection but not much escaped him. Fixed wages allow the budget (that very nebulous and fragile thing) to float counter cyclically. Ok by me. It’s a buffer to stabilize prices like grain and commodity storage has been… so this is very back to rather conservative basics; it could eliminate the need for the out-of-control and rudderless derivatives market just like that. What’s not to love? The EU needs its own Treasury because monetary sovereignty is fiscal sovereignty. Europe-wide. As opposed to the orphaned, stateless, ineffective euro It’s a humanist federation in the making. Both socialism and neoliberalism are tempered to cooperate in environmental protection and human survival. And none too soon.

  14. PlutoniumKun


    From todays Guardian:

    Boris Johnson has been making a series of election-style announcements since he became prime minister, and Number 10 must have been hoping to see Conservative poll ratings lift as a result. The evidence suggests he is having some effect. In a post on his UK Polling Report blog yesterday Anthony Wells listed the five August polls then available, all giving the Tories a lead over Labour varying from three points to nine points. “We’re now at a point where the most recent polls from all the regular polling companies show the Conservatives back ahead,” Wells wrote.

    Since then there have been two more polls giving the Tories a big lead. Last night YouGov released a second August poll, putting the Conservatives on 30% and Labour on 21%. And today Kantar has released a poll suggesting the Tories are 14 points ahead. It puts them on 42%, with Labour on 28%, the Lib Dems on 15% and the Brexit party on 5%.

    Looks like the Tories are well on their way to victory if they can sucker Parliament into a no-confidence motion. I wonder if Corbyn is having second thoughts – strategically he must be tempted to force Johnson to ‘own’ a no-deal and all the consequences.

    It is astonishing though to think that a third of people in the UK seem to think the Tories are doing a good job.

    1. vlade

      Corbyn painted himself into a corner. Massively.

      TBH, I’m not surprised, as the only good strategic moves I have seen him to make are some of the one consolidating his power over Labour, but little else.

      The only move that would now make at least some sense is to approve WA and not call an election, but even that would give Johnson ammunition (it was Corbyn who made it, not me!). Moreover, even that would just, on the current schedule, postpone no-deal, and, moreover, it would make the no-deal impact even less transparent to people due to the transition period (well, we left, nothing happened, so what’s the big issue?).

      1. vlade

        A number of things:
        – what PK says above
        – LD were dead at the time, leaving remainers with pretty much no option but Labour (these were the ABC1, i.e. middle-class voters that went to Labour from LD).
        – Corbyn was riding the Glastonbury wave, which he wasn’t able to replicate since. Both Corbyn and Jonson are marmite politicians (don’t know US equivalent. it means you either love or hate them). Corbyn is not much liked across the country – YouGov poll has 54% negative opinion, 26% positive. Even with millenials he ranks only around 1/3rd like, and that’s the cohort that likes him most.

        UK got Trump in Johnson, but it got Corbyn when it needs Sanders or even Warren.

        Looking to the last elections gives few insights into any new elections.

    2. Monty

      “It is astonishing though to think that a third of people in the UK seem to think the Tories are doing a good job.”

      I think anyone who has traveled around the UK and met its ‘regular folks’ would not be in the least bit astonished by this. They are mostly same ignorant, greedy, selfish and spiteful type that keeps electing the GOP over here.

  15. Eureka Springs

    On 420. As medical dispensaries come on line here in Arkansas nearly three years after voters passed it people I know who are willing to pay oh so much extra for doctors to write a scrip and monopolist growers and retailers for supply are doing it for one main reason.

    They will have an RX type of container which makes possession of it legal. I expect refills of equal to higher quality for much lower cost from small farmers direct will rule the day.

    I’ve long compared this whole shift to what I call big tomato. Big tomato will always be in grocery stores, always be equal to or among the highest prices for lower commercial grade quality. People should still be able to grow their own or buy and sell at farmers markets.

    Where retailers can make extra money is from importing artisanal sativas. No North American can truly produce those Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Colombian ‘maters.

    1. todde

      grow rooms are able to produce sativa strains.

      even outdoors it can be done (steep hills with trees for shade), but the potency doesn’t last down the generations.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Nothing like the originals nor their cure. Indoor could never do that either. What’s the flowering time outside for equatorial sativa, 5 months on a 12 plus month old plant, 20′ tall? Imagine trying to price that in from indoor costs of electricity alone. Indoor (even indica) should become all but obsolete due to costs and environmental reasons.

        1. todde

          about 12 ft with top buds as long as your arm.

          start indoors in December, plant outdoors in may, harvest late October, early November – depending on the moisture.

          Indoors will always be viable for security, I would think. Only time will tell.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Growing pure tropical sativas indoors is not likely to be commercially viable. Nobody paying the electric bill will stand firm when faced against 15-20 week flowering times and a multifoot stretch that demands side as well as top lighting. And outdoors in the Temperate zones, the days are too long and the long summer photoperiod will inhibit flowering, putting harvest into winter where there won’t be enough light and warmth for the plant to thrive, even in places like Southern California. Quality outdoor-grown or indoor drug cannabis couldn’t thrive in the US until people started to bring back C. indica seed from the hippy trails in South Asia and the Near East in the late 70s and those genetics introduced and crossed with the tropical sativas that were the backbone of the US cannabis market to bring down flowering times suitable for temperate cultivation. And I am speaking here from first-hand experience.

            That’s why we can’t get pure tropical sativas here in WA state even while I can legally buy probably well over 100 different varieties and cultivars—almost all hybrids—within bike riding distance. My best guess is that we won’t get tropical sativas on the shelves until the federal ban is lifted and they can be legally grown outdoors in Hawaii or imported from outside the US. I’d happily buy imported tropical sativas from the black market and ditch the legal trade if they were out there to be bought, as they at one time commonly were. Hawaii stands to get a corner on the US legal sativa market if interstate commerce becomes possible, maybe you could do it in Puerto Rico too but they are likely too socially conservative to allow it even though it’d be a great, and needed, economic stimulus for them. Pure tropical sativas are significantly different from the hybrids bred from them and there will be a market if and when it becomes possible to supply it.

            1. Todde

              I cant say about indoor growing.

              Outdoors i grew from seeds i got from Jamaica when i was there.

              Pulled males in beg of july and took out endi of october.

              Thats 4+ months. Seeds were brown and viable, so if it was premature it wasnt by much.

              The problem was the potency was noticeably less after 3rd generation.

              What ended it were hermorphidites.

              The guy who taught me grew ‘thai stick’, and its brown too.

              But we werent doing gross revenue per square foot calculations or anything like that.

  16. dearieme

    The 2020 Democratic Field Is More Anti-War Than Obama Was

    It’s more likely that the 2020 Democratic Field says it’s More Anti-War Than Obama Was.

    1. Procopius

      That’s a distinction I wish more people would make. These people making broad pronouncements about what other people believe or think are unsane. In truth they do not know. They can only know what those people say and do. Back in the ’30s Alfred Korzybski explained it in a nearly unreadable huge book. I got it from one of his disciples, S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action, actually a Freshman English textbook. If you are able to remember to make this distinction and actually listen to what people say, and bear in mind that they may not be saying what they believe to be true, your world view will change and you may become more sane. I confess that I was not able to maintain the practice, but I try to get back to it sometimes.

  17. sammie

    Fifty-one years ago, 8/21 was also a Wed. – we spoke to Warsaw pact soldiers to please go home… today, I wonder whether they may have prevented a civil war from breaking out in Central Europe.

  18. a different chris

    Kamela Harris has spoken unfavorably of facial recognition technology. Likely she as a public and private position. Where the private position is “why do these cost so much? Is the face black or not is all I need to know!!”

  19. anon in so cal

    Tulsi Gabbard may be excluded from the next Democratic debates.

    “Take, for instance, her poll standing in New Hampshire, which currently places Gabbard at 3.3% support, according to the RealClearPolitics average as of Aug. 20. One might suspect that such a figure would merit inclusion in the upcoming debates — especially considering she’s ahead of several candidates who have already been granted entry, including Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang. But the Democratic National Committee has decreed that the polls constituting this average are not sufficiently “qualifying.”

    1. Robert Valiant

      Well, look on the bright side: with a Democratic victory in 2020, we can at least hope for a president who enrages a different segment of the American public. Low expectations are the key to happiness.

    2. Ignim Brites

      Like Gene McCarthy’s campaign in 68, Gabbard’s campaign will be irrelevant until all of the sudden it is not. And like 68, when her candidacy ceases to be irrelevant, the world will be charged irrevocably.

  20. Carolinian

    Stoller on Con Ed–sounds like Yves got out just in time. Seriously, though, it would be more than a bit ironic if the cockpit of neoliberalism and financialization were to be taken down after the local utility embraced their ideology. Surely NYC, with collapsing Hudson tunnels and a crumbling public transit, is one place where “government is the problem, not the solution” does not apply. Back in the day it was famously high taxed for a reason.

    1. notabanker

      When it finally hits the fan it will be ‘because muslims’. NYT and WaPo will be all over it with their ‘sources’.

      1. richard

        me too, but then there’s the problem of waiting around for it
        karma is better as a diy project

  21. tegnost

    from the counterpunch on biden…
    “via a process Noam Chomsky has dubbed “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.” For instance, underwater homeowners whose equity had been decimated by falling house prices were offered only measly government relief.”
    The author (probably for lack of space considering the list of harms he was trying to fit in the post) left out the part that the securities that held the house whose equity had been decimated were allowed to mark to model, rather than mark to market… as in the banksters who held the security were not decimated, only the home “owner” was decimated. Nice work if you can get it.

  22. Wukchumni

    We live under the cover of darkness here on the front porch of the back of beyond, the Milky Way looks like a smear of white when the Moon isn’t willing to show itself…

    Going to a ‘Dark Sky’ party in Kings Canyon National Park with a bunch of friends. There are similar ones going on all over Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP’s on the nights of the 23rd & 24th.

    The Dark Sky Festival is the largest night sky festival in Central California and takes place in various locations throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks including the Foothills, Mineral King, Giant Forest, Lodgepole, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove, as well as Lake Kaweah in Three Rivers. Over 30 programs will be offered this year including tours, stargazing, guest speakers, movies, music, and more.

    Festival attendance has steadily grown each year, with over 5,000 attendees in 2018.

  23. Daryl

    > Trump considers tax cuts to stimulate economy Financial Times

    Ah the battle tested “give money to rich people” solution for economic woes. I’m sure it’ll work this time.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “What ‘Victory’ Looks Like: A Journey Through Shattered Syria”

    Personally I have become an admirer of the strength of character of the Syrian people and they did not deserve what happened to them. I thought that the New York Times was being especially disingenuous here. Of course there is a lot of damage still. The US and EU are forbidding any reconstruction materials or financing unless the Syrians let the Jihadists become the government. That won’t happen anytime soon. And of course the Syrians would be escorting that reporter everywhere. After all, it is widely know that the CIA uses reporters as a cover for their activities. If that reporter was really curious about Syrian hospitals, perhaps he should have talked to Syrian doctors. The doctors are struggling and losing lives as US/EU sanctions mean that nobody is willing to send in drugs for fear of triggering unexpected violations and be penalized for it. So the Syrians continue to die of things like cancer which is treatable.

    I suppose the Russians could have told the Syrians what happens when your country is driven to the brink. But still, the Syrians held and fought back. Not just the leadership but most of the country as a whole. There were over 60,000 Jihadist imported into Syria from at least seventy countries around the world though websites like Wikipedia are trying too low ball it at about 10,000. These Jihadists had all the financing, training and equipping that the west could give them and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Syrians fought against a NATO proxy force. A lot of that gear did come from NATO countries after all. Since this was a New York Times story I ran the numbers and found that the equivelant for the US under such an onslaught would be to have about 740,000 Jihadist cross the borders into the US armed with the latest in Manpads and Anti-Tank-Guided-Missiles. Can you imagine what it would be like if these very same Jihadists took over an American town and what would happen there?

    So now the Syrians are going after Idlib which is nearly all al-Qaeda run. Yeah, that al-Qaeda. Unless of course the west tries for a chemical attack courtesy of the White Helmets or the Turks and all to the background pleas of ‘Won’t somebody please think of the children.’ The Turks tried to send in ammunition and supplies for their al-Qaeda buddies in that pocket in southern Idlib but this time the Russians bombed the road to stop them And when the Turks sent over some F-16s the Russians sent in their own Su-35S fighters to pass the word that that game is over now.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Let’s just hope they don’t turn on us.’

        Well, except for that episode on 9/11, yes.

  25. DJG

    The Politico article on Italy is good, so far as it goes.

    In spite of himself, Conte did the right thing and resigned so as to eliminate Salvini from the council of ministers. This is an important point. It is not a crisis. Conte himself pointed out that Salvini’s behavior and policies are unconstitutional.

    The problem is that you have Five Stars, which had one good idea, keeping Berlusconi away from government, hoisted on its weird opposition to the Lyon-Torino TAV. You’d think someone could have come up with a compromise by now, rather than causing a governmental change over a train line that is needed. (And having been through there this spring, I’ll also admit that the planners haven’t considered how to be delicate in the overused Valle di Susa.)

    Yet the biggest issue is something that Emma Bonino describes in her speech in Parliament (some good quotes pasted below). Both parties, Five Stars and the Lega, engaged in demagogy, which has blown up in their faces. And I am reminded of the U S of A, where both parties are currently engaged in demagogy, which is blowing up in their faces. RussiaRussia, Evil Iran, Muslims, Fear, Deplorables, racism, Racism, bad religion (Mike Pence!). Susan Sarandon, Destroyer of the Moral Fiber of America!

    Salvini’s displays with his rosary are of a religious vulgarity that can only be compared with someone like Mike Pence. Crisis? Yes, the crisis consists of forty or so years of foolish, amoral, destructive capitalism.

    The estimable, honorable Emma Bonino:

    “Le dissociazioni postume da un ministro” di cui si è coperto ogni atto “mi sembrano un po’ troppo comode”. Così Emma Bonino, intervenendo nell’Aula del Senato nel giorno delle dimissioni del premier Conte. L’esponente di + Europa ha poi aggiunto: “A me questa improvvisa deferenza a Mattarella sembra nascondere in sintesi questo: ‘abbiamo combinato in questi 15 mesi un gran pasticcio. Presidente ci aiuti lei’. Quello che è certo”, ha concluso Bonino, “è che il Governo della demagogia è arrivato al capolinea e mi auguro che in questa legislatura non ne parta un altro della stessa natura”.

    “Dissociating oneself afterwards seems to me to be just a tad too convenient,” as she damns the 5Stars for, among other things, letting Salvini be Interior Minister. “The government by demagogy has reached the end of the line, and I hope that in this legislature, another one of this kind does set out again.”

  26. Summer

    Re: Trump – more tax cuts to save the day

    The also want to reduce capital gains tax so that investors will feel freer to dump all that overpriced paper when reality dares to hit.

    Which reminds me of this:
    NYU professor calls WeWork ‘WeWTF’, says any Wall Street analyst who believes it’s worth over $10 billion is ‘lying, stupid, or both.’ Business Insider (David L)

    Hey, if WeWTF, Google, Amazon, & FaceCrook aren’t worth $100 Trillion dollars, what else they (the entire sorry sad sucker of a financial system and establishment) got?

    I really think it’s boiling down to that. If that fantasy doesn’t float, they “got” nothing else…

    1. Lambert Strether

      > NYU professor calls WeWork ‘WeWTF’, says any Wall Street analyst who believes it’s worth over $10 billion is ‘lying, stupid, or both.’ Business Insider (David L)

      So maybe this whole “the United States will become a service economy” idea isn’t working out so well. Now that we’re in the endgame stage.

  27. Baby Gerald

    Superb links as usual. Special thanks for the story on Worth recounting the demise of the Crazy Eddie electronics empire and the evolution of Eddie Antar’s partner-in-crime brother Sam, who turned evidence and eventually became a fraud investigator for the SEC. It’s a great interview with some excellent quotes, particularly his opinion of Elon Musk.

    The Business Insider story about WeWork is great, too. It’s a relief to know that my spidey senses are still in tune regarding shady startups. I’m no investment advisor, but I’d recommend anyone thinking of sinking as much as a dime into that company to please read Scott Galloway’s analysis.

  28. John H

    The only outlet that apologizes to it’s audience for providing kick ass coverage. Bless yr heart!


    1. JohnnyGL

      Not sure how much coverage the NYT meeting getting leaked really got aroudn here, but it’s revealing. Lots of hemming and hawing about the use of the word ‘racist’ and pushback on that topic from staffers.

      Here was the revealing paragraph from the editor:

      The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?

      1. Lambert Strether

        > I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years.

        “I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way has been pushed and gaslit for two years.”

        Fixed it for ya.

    2. Procopius

      I’ve gotta say that Kass fella has a very different view than I do of what the word “liberal” means. He also wrongly describes the “customers” of the New York Times. The “customers” are not the readers or feckless subscribers, they are the advertisers. They are the people Wossisname Sulzberger invites to his home for cocktails. I suppose Kass is “conservative,” but like many he seems to think he knows what “liberals” think and believe. I do not think it’s important what the intention of the NYT was (I am finding Dean Baquet a very unsatisfactory editor), the question is what the effect is. I thought The Bell Curve was a badly written book reaching false conclusions. Reading it did not turn me into a racist. I probably will not get around to reading any of 1619. Reading it is not going to turn people into fanatics who hate America. The point is (IMO) that this is history. We should not ignore it. Same way we should not ignore the truth that people were lynched in 1918 because they had a German-sounding name or because they did not support the war enthusiastically enough.

  29. Tomonthebeach

    SOCIALISM? Is it socialism for the state to take over monopolies that morph into utilities upon which all citizens depend? Is service without profit not just another term for “government?” If we did socialize this sort of monopoly, might it discourage future monopoly building?

    1. todde

      Socialism has profit.

      It just goes to the workers, not the capitalist.

      The fireman gets paid for his service. As does the policeman, the county clerk, and the IRS agent.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s only one kind of socialism. Worker ownership and control of firms is another, and those could make a profit in the full sense of the term. Only, as you say, it goes to the workers.

        There are several worker-owned enterprises in town, both retailers. Seem to be doing well. One is the biggest supermarket in town. Other end of town, so I usually go to the Co-op a few blocks away, but thriving anyway.

        Getting worker ownership back into production is the next challenge.

  30. Walt

    The Amazon is burning and smoke from the fires can be seen from space Vox (Dan K) :-(

    Also commonly visible from space is the acidic sulfate that blankets eastern North America in the summer.

    Most perceive this industrial pollution, however, as “moisture” or “humidity.” This is partly because the National Weather Service reports it as “haze.”

  31. Wukchumni

    Was talking with my mom on the phone, when the telltale sign of F-35’s overhead was overheard, in that they’re loud. A duo made 1 pass and roared off back to Lemoore Naval Air Station.

    Been a month between sorties for me…

  32. JTMcPhee

    Maybe this has been covered here, amongst so much important content, but there’s a sad look back at one of the Imperium’s not-so-long-ago violent danses macabre, in a place called Kosovo:

    Lest we forget even one of all the horrible horribles that can be laid at the feet of 11-foot-tall statues of those Great American Heroes, the Clintons. Haiti, aspirin factories, prison slavery, “we came we saw he died cackle cackle cackle…” on and on.

    And up above, someone offered that Hillary was “incompetent” to be President. Hey, she has done a bang-up job of Being Hillary, doing what the Clintons have done and continue to do, and what exactly are the benchmarks of “qualification” to be the titular head of that horror of horrors, the American Empire?

  33. vlade

    Amazon burning? Ha, look at Siberia. Since the start of the year, almost 50k square miles (120k square km), two and a half time the Amazon fires, burned down. Just July had 30k km2 (>10k mi2) burned down.

    But I guess Amazon is more attractive (it’s not, Siberia is wonderful), and Russia bashing is not in (a lot of Siberian fires were started to cover illegal logging, often exporting timber to China. Illegal logging in Siberia is way way worse than in Amazon, and Siberian fires release also methane and CO2 from permafrost, making it worse than Amazon).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Googling ‘Chinese in Siberia,’ I come across what looks like unpleasant news to the coming Chinese-Russian Heartland Alliance. Western Propaganda?

      SCMP – Russians fight Chinese funded bottling plant at Siberia’s Lake Baikal.

      SCMP – Chinese in Russian Far East, a Geopolitical time bomb?

      NYTimes – Why China Will Reclaim Siberia.

      Reclaim? NYTimes is implying something here.

      1. vlade

        China and Russia already had a few bumps over Siberia I believe.

        Basically, China sees Siberia as an answer to its resource problem, especially since Siberia is really sparsely populated. Russia, as you can guess, disagrees.

      1. vlade

        Hi point seems to be that it’s a small percentage of the whole. Sure, it may be. but it’s still a very large area in absolute terms.

        It’s like saying “you know, 9/11, what 3000 people killed? US has 250m people. That’s like 0.001% of the population. Rounding error. Same number of people dies on roads per month, and who’s excited about that? So what’s the fuss about?”

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Illegal logging

      Of course. What kind of wood do they take? (I have a mental picture of Siberia as lots and lots of scrub, but I’m sure that’s quite wrong.)

      Adding, we seem to have rather a lot of burning these days: the Amazon, Siberia, the Arctic. What I have not seen is a chart with frequency over time, though I can see last year’s heat wave drying out the biomass for this year’s fire. And of course we have the fires in Southeast Asia to come (palm oil for Europe; farmers clearing fields for crops to come).

      1. vlade

        North Siberia is scrub – tundra.

        But a lot of Siberia is Taiga (which is actually a Russian word with origins from Asia I believe). On northern american continent, think southern Canada. Basically, Canada is very similar to Siberia in the terms of ecosystem (taiga and tundra).

        Taiga is really a boreal forest, with mostly conifesrs, but some deciduous (birch being very common in Russia), on the southern edges you get even oak, mapple etc.

  34. Amfortas the hippie

    on the plastic recycling art. in npr:
    if the big plastic makers flooding the market are the problem, this seems like a job for the Tax Man(I’m not averse to a cape for the corporate Tax Man, either).
    and why is it that recycling can’t be done domestically?
    does the process require giant facilities, or 100 acre lots of giant piles of crap…or can it be done smaller scale, and relatively cleanly?
    specifically, i’m thinking about my little county…and all the work they did to 1. build a “recycling facility”(really, a sorting facility) and 2. convince these small-c conservative people to embrace separating their trash.
    now the model they relied on, behind all that, is done.
    what would it take to sort and pelletize the plastic waste we generate, here?
    (i know how to do this with a lot of the metal scrap, as well as with the frelling lumber folks seem hell bent on throwing away,lol…but have no idea about plastics.)

  35. Chris

    File under recession watch metrics…

    I’m now getting 6 offers a day for refinancing my home mortgage and other debts. I’m getting at least 5 robocalls a day about home equity options. I’m getting 3 robocalls a day in foreign languages. The most common languages are spanish, chinese, and french. Are banks that desperate for suckers these days?

    1. Massinissa

      I’m trying to understand why robocalls would be in french. Never even heard of that happening. I wonder if thats a marker of something in and of itself. Unless you’re in Canada in which case it might make sense.

  36. Massinissa

    “Liz Warren asks justice department why they went easy on big banks”

    Because Obama. What part of “I’m between you and the pitch forks” did she not understand? But oh, Obama read her work and said “PREDATORY LENDING!”

  37. Firéan

    No need for the apologies , at the beginning of this links page, for all the CalPers coverage.
    Though not in California ( nor the USA) and not directly effect by CalPers’ business, your excellent coverage is still always appreciated to read and learn. And, as all this corruption doesn’t happen in a vacuum , often one topic carries over to include another , as per earlier this month :

    Hope to continue following your excellent reporting – and read of postive results too.
    Thank You again


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